The Genre Shuffle

I keep getting asked about my genre, and I find myself dancing around the question. Is “Bram Stoker’s Summer Sublet” a Vampire Romance, an Urban Fantasy or a Paranormal Mystery? Yes and no — to all of them. I rocket back and forth between calling it a Vampire Dark Comedy or a Vampire Un-Romance.

I really don’t know what to say.

On the surface “POED” is Psychological Suspense, but the Poe-infused style could also win it a Contemporary Gothic label. And that Poe-connection means horror can’t be far away.

At least “The Mary Shelley Game” is a straight out Mystery. Or is it? The stories within the story are all over the genre universe and the stalker in the woods makes a case for suspense or thriller.

And now I’m working on the fourth MONSTER. I’m telling myself it’s Romantic Suspense, but I could be wrong. I think I’ve struck the appropriate balance between the mystery/suspense elements and the romance, but….

Does any of this really matter? I read all sorts of genres. My Kindle is fat with a wild mix — historical romances, science fiction, classic horror, urban fantasy, ghost stories, cozy mysteries, noir detectives, paranormal and the rest. I even read non-fiction. (Believe it or not…)

But books are marketed to ever-thinner slices of the reading universe. It seems like the narrower the scope the easier it is to find the right readers. This would imply that most readers are into only one kind of book.

Is this true? Am I dancing alone in my genre shuffle?

Do you read across genres? Let me know…

Historical Romance/Romantic Suspense/Suspense Mystery/Mystery Horror/ Horror Thriller/Thriller Terror/Terror Mystery/ Mystery Murder/ Murder Detective/ Detective Noir……



  1. I am a cross genre reader. It is like going out to dinner. Sometimes I want Asian, other times BBQ. It seems to me we have come into a time when we can experience any kind of writing that suits our fancy.

    Big publishing has been the one to push for more specific marketing (costs less to promote that way). We as readers should have our choice, and as writers should be free to share our stories as the story dictates.

    I find that good writing is my preferred genre more than a pigeonholed idea of what I should be reading.

    • Candy

      Glad I’m not alone out there — enjoying a buffet of reading genres.
      And writing in them too!

  2. Wouldn’t it be nice if Amazon did away with categories per se, and instead allowed readers to find books based on whichever ingredients they most fancy from the smorgasbord? That way we writers could pick out the main characteristics of our work, almost like keywords, and not have to worry about genres at all.

    I find some so-called genres so ubiquitous it’s hard to imagine a decent story /not/ including them. After all, what is a mystery but a story whose ending we can’t guess? And isn’t a thriller any story that is gripping? And aren’t psychological stories just about getting deep and dirty with a character?

    • Candy

      It’s funny, but I don’t really mind marketing that uses genres… what bugs me is the idea that the audience is segmented and because I bought the new Donna Leone I MUST be a mystery fan and nothing else. I can envision a future where algorithms write books specifically for us as individuals based on our past reactions. YEEEEEch!

      It’s like taste in music. It’s good to like a variety. Why not in books, too?

      A few years ago I went to the Romance Writers of America conference. It was held in NYC so, no travel, no hotel, just a wild selection of conference seminars. (FYI.. the romance writers were really, really nice and supportive people.) That’s where I discovered that the slices of genres were getting slimmer and slimmer with tinier distinctions. Urban Fantasy with a romantic Vampire vs Paranormal Romance with a romantic Vampire — still confuses me.

  3. When reading, I like to vary the genres I try to read, but I tend to avoid fantasy and romance. No matter the genre, I like multi-layered stories with a bit of meat to them. When writing, I find I tend to be literary or trying my hat at psychological suspense. Any piece of writing can fit multiple genres, it just helps when one is more clear cut than others for marketing purposes. Hmmm, now it I only felt I knew one iota about marketing…

    • Candy

      Ah yes, the marketing conundrum. It gets us all!

      I truly believe the the genre is secondary to the quality of the storytelling. I’ve enjoyed all sorts of genres and disliked mysteries (my favorite genre) because of the writing. It’s always about the quality of the work.

  4. Mysteries are my fav, but I definitely cross genres and my books are cross-genre. I think readers just like a good story, regardless of genre.